North Korea Launches 2 Projectiles, Its 7th Weapons Test in a Month



From The New York Times:

 

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched two projectiles on Saturday, two days after South Korea decided to pull out of a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan.

The two projectiles were launched from Sondeok near the North’s eastern coast, the South Korean military said in a brief statement. The launching on Saturday was the seventh time North Korea has tested short-range ballistic missiles or other projectiles since late last month.

South Korean defense officials provided no further details on the latest test by the North, adding that they were analyzing data they acquired through radar and other intelligence-gathering equipment to determine what type of projectiles were launched.

The tests came after South Korea decided on Thursday to terminate an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan under which the two key allies of the United States had shared tracking data on the missiles fired by the North. The South Korean decision to abandon the agreement takes effect in 90 days.

South Korea decided to pull out of the deal, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, in retaliation against a series of trade restrictions Japan has imposed since early July, including the removal of South Korea from its list of countries favored with preferential trade treatment.

Japan had questioned South Korea’s trustworthiness in handling sensitive security-related products when it downgraded its trade partner’s status. The South said it could not share sensitive military intelligence with such a country.

The United States expressed “strong concern and disappointment” about the South Korean decision.

Seoul and Tokyo signed GSOMIA in late 2016 after years of urging from Washington, which wanted its two key Asian allies to work more closely to confront North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile threats and China’s growing influence in the region.

GSOMIA was part of Washington’s broader effort to ensure the United States and its two allies responded more quickly and efficiently to growing threats from North Korea, China and Russia by sharing information seamlessly. Its importance was highlighted during North Korea’s recent series of short-range ballistic missiles and other projectiles in recent weeks.

Officials in Washington have expressed concern about the growing rupture between Japan and South Korea, worried that the end of GSOMIA would send the wrong signal to China and North Korea, which have long sought to undermine American influence in the region.

Without the agreement, Tokyo and Seoul will have to exchange sensitive military intelligence through Washington, which has separate intelligence-sharing deals with both nations. But such an arrangement could slow down the information sharing at critical moments, like immediately after a North Korean missile launching, analysts said.

 

 

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